When it comes to concussions, contact sports like football are generally top of mind. But we all know it is an issue in almost every major sport. And now it’s being formally addressed in one of America’s most recognizable athletic leagues: NASCAR.
NASCAR recently announced that baseline testing for concussions (ImPACT testing) will be mandatory for all drivers as early as 2014. These baseline test results will be used to compare with test results taken after a driver has crashed in an effort to diagnose a concussion – and ultimate decide if and when they can return to competition.
While concussion testing has long been mandatory in other racing bodies, including the IndyCar Series, it didn’t gain much traction in NASCAR until it was forced into the spotlight by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Dale sustained a concussion in 2012 after being involved in a 25 car pile-up. The concussion caused him to miss two major races – but that wasn’t all. He also revealed that it was his second concussion in as many months, and for several weeks he had been racing at less than 100%.
Dale was one of the biggest proponents of this change.
“I think it’s an exciting opportunity for us to have a better benchmark to be able to diagnose and be able to treat (concussions),” he told USA Today. “It’s one small piece of the entire diagnosis of a concussion, but it’s important and I’m encouraged by it. I think it’s great NASCAR is taking that proactive approach.”
“It’s just another subjective field for doctors that don’t understand our sport,” he said. “This is not the field for doctors. Let them play in their arena and I’ll play in mine.”
Despite the push-back, mandatory baseline testing is a step in the right direction for NASCAR. We’re very interested to see the impact this will have on the sport and the safety of the drivers.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!